The Changing Faces of Virtual Reality in 2016
Virtual reality is big business in 2016, in fact Deloitte predicts that this year will see the VR industry reach a landmark worth of $1bn – that’s £710 million – and with platforms available on the market from virtually every tech giant it really is no surprise.
Although users of VR for promotional purposes need to be careful that they aren’t just using VR for VR’s sake, rather they are creating relevant content that adds value to consumers’ experiences. The past year we have seen a number of innovative uses for VR starting to emerge that will see the potential for this type of platform to expand into new industries.
We’ve picked out four emerging VR trends that we think say a lot about the position of VR not just in today’s world, but where it will be in tomorrow’s.
Action vs Storytelling
In the past VR has been almost exclusively used to immerse users in action simulations or games, be it a racing track or flying a plane, but now we’re seeing a shift towards using VR to tell a story that inspires action. Rather than adrenaline-inducing experiences, we’re seeing applications that are designed to tug at the heartstrings instead.
A great example of this is UNICEF’s film ‘Clouds over Sidra’, which was available to viewers via VR headsets and the VRSE App on smartphones with the use of Google Cardboard. This emotive film followed a 12-year-old girl – Sidra – through the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, home to tens of thousands of victims of the Syrian war. This powerful immersive experience was filmed using the Samsung Geer VR 360 degree platform and was used as part of a fundraising conference which helped raise $3.8 billion.
VR is proving to be a fantastic tool for charities and educational foundations used as a way to teach audiences about a subject through an immersive experience, which can and will in the future have interactive elements.
Film & Entertainment
It feels like we’ve only really just got to grips with 3D films and now we’re branching into VR films with the release of ‘Allumette’ which received rave reviews at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. This VR film successfully immerses you in the drama as you follow the film’s protagonist around corners, look through doors and windows and see the story unfold from a dynamic perspective that verges on realism. We’ve already seen films like The Martian and Independence Day utilise VR and 360-degree video as a means for pre-promotion.
This shows that VR is being used not just to create brand experiences in the traditional sense; it’s also being used to create immersive experiences for the sake of entertainment.
Sports teams are also adopting VR technology as a training aid, to improve spectator experiences, and even analyse performance techniques.
Wearing the headsets sports professionals can re-live specific moments from a game with 360-degree views, and with the luxury of hindsight and thinking time make an informed decision about the right move to make. This sort of system has been openly embraced by the Dallas Cowboys. 360-degree cameras are already allowing sports fans to watch game footage back, tilting and rotating their phones in order to take in different perspectives.
Developments in VR at sporting events could also see fans able to have this 360-degree experience of a live sporting event whilst sat in the comfort of their own homes. You can read about the likelihood of developments like this in the near future here.
Transforming the Dining Experience
Hospitality has always embraced VR and 360-degree films as a means to entice current and potential clients to visit specific geographical areas and resorts. We’ve seen Marriott International use it in their ‘Travel Brilliantly’ campaign where guests were invited to experience different locations through VR headsets, which would inspire them to then book a trip. There’s no doubting that VR offers an innovative way to present hotels and destinations to clients, but we’re seeing a new use emerge that takes the experience one step further.
Hoteliers and restaurateurs are using VR to enhance the dining experience, last Christmas TGI Friday’s allowed customers to experience a husky dog sledge whilst tucking into their festive menu. At Diageo World Class UK Bartender of the Year 2015, Benji Purslow from Keystone Crescent experimented with how our sense can alter our perceptions of taste, and offered judges his signature cocktail alongside an Oculus Rift, which transported judges to the Italian countryside.
This really should come as no surprise when we consider the multitude of studies that have produced data supporting the fact that sight, touch and smell all influence our gastronomic experiences. Studies have found that the ambience which surrounds you when drinking whisky can affect how you perceive its taste, likewise, the colour of your coffee cup can affect how you rate your coffee.
Jamie Jones from Jason Atherton’s The Social Company spoke at Imbibe live about how VR headsets will be making their way into mainstream restaurants very soon. In fact, he also spoke about The Social Company’s plan to realise a dining concept next year in which VR will play a key role.
The Next Obstacle
VR isn’t restricted to one piece of hardware, yes it includes headsets like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR but it is also readily available through smartphone apps with the help of things like Google Cardboard and has even lead the consumer to become the content creator with Samsung Gear 360.
Many have said that the main hindrances that developments in VR face is creating content that users will want to engage with. We’ve already seen that this is making headway with the VR film ‘Allumette’ and its ability to remake storytelling in the form of video with UNICEF.
Offering a wealth of opportunities for innovative applications incorporating VR experiences into entertainment such as films and gaming; creating try-before-you-buy teasers in the retail and tourism industry; and immersive educational tutorials are all very real applications for the near future.
Book With Scarlett Entertainment
Whether you want to create an immersive film to promote your product, a virtual reality gaming experience, or any other VR experience for brand promotion or events, contact us. We have a whole range of pre-made virtual reality experiences as well as complete custom options that can be tailor-made to help you achieve your VR goals.